Bud Hunt on the concept of professional distance:
For the same reason that I set boundaries in my face to face interactions with students, I maintain some sense of professional separation in online spaces. I’d encourage you to consider carefully you and your community’s comfort as you intentionally choose the public faces of your online self. And, whatever you decide, please communicate it to the students and families in your care. Make sure your administrators know what — and where and how — you’re doing.
Bud, a number of teachers I work with use Facebook as their main entry point onto the internet and they treat it very much in the way that more experienced social media experts warn us that our students are using it – to let off steam, to let their hair down – without realising that it is not just their close circle of friends who may be watching. They would argue that it is their right to treat Facebook as part of their private, non-school life without being bound by a higher behaviour code than their non-school acquaintances and family members. So party pics, expletive laden comments and membership of dodgy “likes” still abound in their accounts – it makes it hard to be giving out advice to students about “be careful about what you post” when they don’t see that everything posted onto this one site is forming a very comprehensive digital footprint. But then again, for a few teachers teaching is just a job, not a calling, so naively believing that one can separate one’s private from professional in the digital world is probably not surprising.
It always seems unfair to hold educators to higher levels of conduct than the general population, especially when it doesn’t seem to make much difference to the public perceptions of the profession. But we are in a different era now. Kids used to think that teachers lived at the school and had no private life. But now without some carefully considered lines drawn in the sand, kids now have access to anything that an educator chooses to post online. Saying that one is entitled to a private life doesn’t make a lot of sense if you don’t actually take some measures to keep it private. We all know Facebook is the least private place going around.